Sophomore registered late penalty kick save vs. No. 2 North Carolina last
In the 89th minute of a tied 0-0 game against then-No. 2 North Carolina, thesecond-largest crowd ever at Ludwig Field went silent. The Tar Heels wereawarded a penalty kick and the fate of No. 1 Maryland's undefeated recordrested on one person: goalkeeper Keith Cardona.North Carolina forward Rob Lovejoy, the reigning national player of the week,lined up for the kick and struck the ball solidly. But Cardona was there. And whenTar Heel midfielder Verneri Valimaa picked up the rebound and sent it toward thenet, Cardona was there, too."My only thought was I gotta save it,'" said Cardona. "There's only one thing todo, and that's try your best. You try to put all the pieces together, try to read whathe does and try to guess right. The fact that I did was awesome."The Terps went on to win in overtime, posting their 12th straight victory, andCardona gave them the fighting chance.But Cardona is used to fighting. The sophomore fought for playing time lastseason against then-starter and current director of operationsWill Swaim."Will taught me to be better every day and to maintain the same line of confidence," said Cardona. "In our position, you can't have really good days andreally bad days. All your games have to be really similar.""Keith has matured incredibly in the last year and he's really coming into his ownas both a goalkeeper and a student," Swaim said. "He's a great teammate toeverybody." After Swaim graduated, Cardona was the assumed starter this season. Over spring and summer training, though,Jordan Tatumfought Cardona for theposition. The catch: Tatum is one of Cardona's best friends."Everything is positive," said Cardona of their odd relationship. "We push eachother every day. Every time we step on the field we try to make each other better."The friendly rivalry ended with Cardona being named starter before the seasonbegan."It meant the world to me," he said. "I thanked my coaches and the captains over the summer. We all worked really hard together. I started playing with confidencein the preseason and we just kept the ball rolling."